It came as no surprise to the nation when Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced another lockdown – dubbed Lockdown 3.0 – to halt the surge of coronavirus cases and the faster spreading variant.

While it was anticipated to end in mid-February, Johnson has since stated that lockdown will remain in effect until early March at the earliest.

And although England has been shut down again, the property market remains open for business, with people allowed to buy, sell and move home, as long as Covid guidelines and public health measures are adhered to all times.

This news has been wholly welcomed by the property sector, particularly as the market is being fuelled by the stamp duty surge, low interest rates and generally positive buying and selling conditions.

In fact, Rightmove has recorded its busiest ever start to a new year, with visits to the site up 30% on the same period in 2020, and the number of people contacting estate agents to buy property up 11%.

Below, we look at the latest housing market conditions during Lockdown 3.0 and what the potential stamp duty holiday extension could mean for buyers and sellers.

‘Business as usual’ for the housing market

Similar to Lockdown 2.0, but entirely different to Lockdown 1.0, the housing market remains open during the UK’s third lockdown.

This means Covid-safe home viewings and appraisals for sales and lettings properties are still possible, surveys can go ahead, and home movers are allowed to continue the process during the current lockdown.

However, everyone should continue to play their part in reducing the spread of the virus by following the current guidance. Last updated on January 7, the guidelines outline the dos and don’ts of moving during the pandemic.

This includes social distancing, washing your hands frequently, limiting contact between households, carrying out virtual viewings in the first instance, and ensuring the property is thoroughly cleaned and well ventilated between each viewing and before someone moves in.

Everyone must wear face coverings during a viewing (unless they are exempt), while buyers should avoid touching surfaces wherever possible. If they are accompanied by small children, it’s important that they also refrain from touching surfaces and wash their hands regularly.

Meanwhile, the government advised that those moving home should try to do as much of the packing themselves as they can. Where this is not possible, home movers should speak to removal firms in advance.

Will the stamp duty holiday be extended?

Despite the challenges posed by Lockdown 3.0, the property market is still flourishing as activity from 2020 spills into 2021, further boosted by the stamp duty holiday, which is expected to end on March 31 2021.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the policy in an effort to revitalise the property market following the first lockdown in March last year. It proved successful, with prices soaring and 12-year highs in the number of mortgages being approved.

There is talk of a possible extension to the stamp duty holiday deadline after a high-profile e-petition surpassed 100,000 signatures on January 18. There are now over 130,000 signatures.

The petition asks for a six-month extension to the stamp duty holiday for homes for sale under £500,000. Since then, numerous agencies, trade bodies and finance chiefs have backed the campaign to persuade HM Treasury to extend the looming deadline, ahead of the MPs virtual debate on February 1.

This comes as Zoopla’s latest figures suggest 70,000 transactions are likely to miss the deadline. The portal says with so many sales agreed in the second half of 2020, and now racing to beat the cut-off date, the average time for a sale to complete is over the usual three months, hitting closer to four.

While it’s difficult to predict the outcome of the debate, there is some confidence that an extension may be announced. Even if the holiday ends on the expected date, the boost provided by the vaccine rollout could help to sustain the market into Q2 and beyond.

If you work closely with a reliable, local estate agent, market your property in an effective way, and carry out Covid-compliant in-person viewings, you will increase your chances of selling for your asking price or above.

For help in doing so, please get in contact with us at Key Property Consultants, where we will do all we can to get your home sold while adhering to all the latest guidelines. 

To find out more about what we can do for you across South East London, get in touch with us on 0203 793 2033 or email us at info@keypropertyconsultants.co.uk. You can find out more about our services here.

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